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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Blue mat treatment and ecopassages for critters are new at Ontario Parks

   One-Tank Trip for April 9/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   They’re rolling out the red carpet – actually blue mats to aid the handicapped – and under-road passages to reduce road kill at Ontario Parks.
   Along with upgraded roofed accommodations, a Pinery app and being able to book group campsites online, there’s much that’s new at provincial parks this coming season.
   Accessibility mats “make popular beach parks more manageable for visitors who use walkers, wheelchairs or strollers,” said Sheila Wiebe of Ontario Parks.
Additional mats, such as this one at Wasaga Beach, are planned.
   Port Bruce Provincial Park at Aylmer on Lake Erie is the latest to roll out the mats.
   They’re similar to those at Wasaga Beach, Sandbanks and Long Point “that allow everyone to enjoy a day at the beach.”
   Meanwhile, giving wildlife a break are “ecopassages,” or mini corridors, that help critters cross roads safely.
   Similar to wilderness corridors over and under the Trans-Canada Highway, these ecopassages are like a “critter-sized subway tunnel” under the road.
   There are also specially designed fences and culverts to reduce roadkill by providing small animals with a safe way to cross.
   Pinery Provincial Park, south of Grand Bend on Lake Huron, and Presqu’ile, on Lake Ontario near Brighton, are the latest to construct the passages.
Two raccoons are trying out the new “ecopassage,” helping them to cross parks roads safely. (Ontario Parks)
   Pinery’s was installed after construction of a water control structure in the culvert below the Burley Causeway limited the movement of mammals, reptiles and amphibians and due to “observations of road mortality.”

   An automated camera system has already monitored the movement of raccoons, muskrats, beavers, chipmunks, red and gray squirrels, skunks and mice through the passage.
   Reptiles and amphibians are expected to start using it this spring.
Concern about roadkill at parks has led to the building of ecopassages. (Ontario Parks)
   It’s hoped the park will eventually have three ecopassages – one for each of the causeways that cross the park’s Old Ausable Channel, said Alistair MacKenzie, responsible for Natural Heritage Education/Resource Management.
   The passages can also be found at Algonquin, Long Point on Lake Erie and Killbear, on Georgian Bay.

   A roof over your head
   “Glampers” will enjoy roughing it in style with all the comforts of home at six cozy cabins.
   So, get out and enjoy nature with features such as stone fireplaces, fully equipped kitchens and whirlpool tubs.
   They can be found at Pine Shores cottage at Bonnechere Provincial Park on the shores of Round Lake in Eastern Ontario.
  Cozy cabins, including this at Bonnechere Provincial Park, provide the comforts of home. (Ontario Parks)
   This retreat was recently refurbished and has three bedrooms including a master with a queen-sized bed, living room with fireplace, flat screen TV and fully equipped kitchen.
   There’s a bathroom with whirlpool tub and shower, furnished patio, swimming area, canoe and equipment, and fire pit for evening campfires.
   Camp in style at the new one-room cabin in Killarney Provincial Park; the Temagami cabin at Finlayson Point; Clarke-Denson cottage at Presqu’ile; the Cottages at Sleeping Giant; and Jacques cottage at Sandbanks.
   Pinery has a new app that gives visitors quick access to weather forecasts, nature programs and activities.
   Called “Explore Pinery,” it links to Ontario Parks’ fall colour and ski reports and to its social media channels.
   Users can record park sounds and wildlife sightings or use the app as a step counter.
   Campers are now able to book group campsites online at Bronte Creek, Earl Rowe, Inverhuron, MacGregor Point, Point Farms, Port Burwell, Rock Point, Sauble Falls, Selkirk, Pinery, Turkey Point and Wheatley. ontarioparks.com; 1-800-668-2746

   Eat, drink and be merry
   The “bounty” of the Niagara Region can be experienced from April 15 to 17 at the Niagara Food & Wine Expo.
   Taking place at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, the expo will be showcasing what the area has to offer.
Vendors offer a variety of treats at the Niagara Food & Wine Expo.
   “From stunning regional wines from neighbouring vineyards to locally inspired cuisine from top chefs and restaurants to inspired craft breweries and distillers, there is no better way to taste everything that the area is known for all under one roof,” said Melanie Klie, show manager.
   Show hours are April 15, 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.; April 16, noon to 10 p.m.; and April 17, noon to 6 p.m.
Eat, drink in Niagara
   Tickets are $12 in advance; $15 at the door, with sampling tickets for wine, spirits, beer and food costing $1 each. niagarafoodandwineexpo.ca


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca


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